How Priory Church in Wales School used team learning to improve standards of teaching.

Context and background

Priory Church in Wales School is an English-medium primary school situated in Brecon, Powys. There are 146 learners on roll, aged 3 to 11.

The proportion of learners eligible for free school meals is 20 per cent, which is slightly above the national average of 19 per cent. Around 16 per cent of learners have a special educational need, which is below the national average of 21 per cent.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

Following an audit of the Successful Futures (Welsh Government, 2015) document the school identified a number of areas that they wanted to develop in preparation for the proposed curriculum change. These included greater awareness of the Digital Competence Framework (DCF), pedagogy to reflect the creative elements of the document and effective collaborative working.

The school is the only training school in Wales for Mantle of the Expert, an inquiry-based approach to the curriculum that uses drama to engage, challenge and excite learners.

As part of the professional learning school project the school has looked at developing the teaching staff (and learning support assistants) in school through a peer-coaching support programme to build on expertise ‘in-house’ and to develop the learning environment as a whole.

The staff work in groups of three to trial the ‘Lesson Study’ approach adopted in Japan. This approach involves grouping teachers together to study the processes of learning and teaching in the classroom following the pedagogical approach of Mantle of the Expert. This is then followed by discussions of how to improve classroom practice.

An increase in professional dialogue was encouraged through observing video recordings of the practice of national and lead trainers. This information was analysed and discussions held regarding effective questioning, body language, the use of silence, facilitating rather than leading learning and the use of drama for learning to improve teaching and standards of learning.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

This approach has led to an increase of confidence in the creativity of all teachers across the school. There has also been an increase in the number of lessons judged good or better by leaders.

The school has shared this approach to learning and teaching with other schools across Wales by hosting study days and workshops for other practitioners to observe and discuss the practice. Students from University Wales Trinity Saint David also attended a study day at the school. The school works closely with EDAU (The Arts and Education Network North Wales) to give presentations and lead workshops in supporting others in becoming more creative in their approach to learning and teaching and developing effective pedagogy that reflects Successful Futures.